Reykjavik, IcelandArrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to the Grand Hotel Reykjavik. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure. Gather at the hotel for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight.
Reykjavik / Embark the Island SkyAfter breakfast set out to explore Iceland’s classic scenic wonders known as the Golden Circle. Begin with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of green moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two voluminous cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both boiling and tranquil multi-hued hot springs and bubbling mud pools. After lunch in these picturesque surroundings proceed to the pier, making a photo stop at a scenic viewpoint before boarding the Island Sky.
Flatey Island / LatrabjargBy Zodiac, trace the coastline of Flatey Island before going ashore for a walking tour of the village. Visit the uniquely painted island church and the restored houses of islanders who earn a living fishing for cod and lumpfish. This evening sail past Iceland’s westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliff, a breeding ground for millions of seabirds.
Vigur Island / Adalvik BayAfter breakfast take a walking tour of small, verdant Vigur, the summer home to a vast number of puffins, black guillemots, Arctic terns, and eiders. The tiny community dates back to the late 1800s and boasts Iceland’s only windmill. After lunch visit beautiful Adalvik Bay, a five-mile-wide cove surrounded by impressive mountains. Stroll along the sandy beaches and flower-bedecked tundra to view the old houses of Hesteyri—a fishing village that was abandoned by its residents in 1952 due to its remoteness—and prolific birdlife.
Siglufjordur / Gimsey IslandThis morning visit Siglufjordur, once the undisputed herring fishing capital of the Atlantic. The Herring Era Museum vividly depicts this period and a lively song and dance reenactment accompanied by local delicacies brings the herring boom era to life. This afternoon celebrate as you cross the Arctic Circle during your visit to Grímsey Island. Weather permitting go ashore to visit the Viking hamlet of Sandvik, home to about 100 permanent residents who earn their living from fishing and fish processing. A Zodiac cruise along Grímsey’s basaltic cliffs provides an exhilarating view of the incredible birdlife including kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, and puffins.
At SeaSpend a day at sea attending informative lectures from your naturalists and historians.
Jan Mayen Island, NorwayJan Mayen Island claims the northernmost active volcano on the planet. The Beerenberg volcano is entirely capped in ice and boasts numerous glaciers, many of which calve directly into the sea. Fulmars and puffins are among the seabird species that nest here. With permission, and weather permitting, go ashore to view the old whaling station and the weather station.
At SeaJoin naturalists on deck to search for whales and seabirds, and attend lectures preparing you for your time in Svalbard.
The next six days are spent exploring the rugged coastline, spectacular narrow fjords, and offshore islands of Svalbard with the primary goal of locating wildlife. The nature of polar expeditions requires flexibility with weather, ice, and sea conditions dictating the landings. Though specific stops are not guaranteed, the following are places visited on past expeditions:
Danskøya Island - This island was a whaling station in the 17th century, but is better known for its important role in several unsuccessful attempts to reach the North Pole. Solomon Andree, the Swedish balloonist, departed from here in 1897 in an attempt to fly over the North Pole and was never seen alive again. In 1907, and again in 1909, American explorer Walter Wellman flew north from the island in the airship America. Both flights were abandoned due to mechanical failure.
Amsterdamøya Island - This historic island was the site of Smeerenburg, a Dutch and Danish whaling station founded in 1617.
Liefdefjorden - In this dramatically scenic fjord, rugged mountains rise from the permanent ice cap and the Monaco Glacier spills into the sea at the deepest part of the waterway, a favored feeding ground for thousands of kittiwakes. Polar bears are a possibility here and whales and seals are also common sights.
Hinlopen Strait - Glaciers, chiseled fjords, and icebergs hallmark this desolate and exquisitely beautiful region. Board Zodiacs to watch for and photograph bearded, harp, and ringed seals and with luck, the mighty polar bear.
Hornsund - Hornsund is backdropped by soaring mountain peaks and rolling tundra which bursts into bloom during the summer. The Polish research station, established here in 1957, is a base for international research and exploration. Numerous seabirds soar overhead and Arctic foxes and groups of reindeer are often spotted in the vicinity.
Bear Island (Bjornoya)For nearly three centuries, Bear Island was the home of a major Barents Sea whaling station. Today, thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, murres, dovekies, and multiple gull species make their home on the jagged cliffs and rocky pinnacles that rise vertically from the sea. Cruise by Zodiac along the eroded cliffs and make a landing for a tundra walk among seasonal wildflowers to search for Arctic foxes.
Skarsvaag / North CapeThis morning go ashore in Skarsvaag and drive or hike up to the 1,000-foot-high plateau that rises from the Barents Sea. The community of North Cape (Nordkapp) is commonly referred to as the northernmost point of the European continent. Here an impressive edge-of-the-world Visitors Center features historical exhibits.
Tromso / Disembark / OsloThis morning disembark in Tromsø, known as the “Gateway to the Arctic,” for a tour of this charming university city. Enjoy incredible views from Mount Storsteinen, visit the unique Arctic Cathedral, and explore the Polar Museum. This afternoon board your flight (not included in cruise fare) for Oslo, with dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Return HomeDepart on your independent flight home.